Happy first birthday to Discussion Dinner! Boy, did we have a great year. We talked about some really important topics and formed a community of friends. Thank you to everyone who hosted, cooked, invited friends, and participated. Discussion Dinner wouldn’t exist without you.
I’m really excited about 2016. The mission of DD is to expand our understanding and empathy for those around us. I envision a diverse group of people sharing their stories and how they’ve formed their beliefs. It’s not meant to be an argumentative group or a group to show off your debate skills. This isn’t about proving someone wrong or proving yourself right, but it is about trying to understand why someone believes differently from you.
Inclusion doesn’t happen naturally.
I’ve realized that, especially in Austin, we’re going to have to be more intentional about incorporating diversity into our dinners. We tend to gravitate toward people who are like us, which can be fine. This group, though, is meant to open us up to differences, not pat us on the back for our similarities. My commitment to Discussion Dinner 2016 is to be more intentional about inviting diversity in. This will, hopefully, be accomplished in two ways:
- Inviting minorities in Austin to come lead a dinner.
- Going on field trips.
The second change for DD 2016 is that the dinner is going to happen EVERY OTHER month, starting in January. I believe this will help us focus more on the mission, because we will have more time to plan each dinner. In the off months, we’re going to launch DD Field Trips. These will be cultural activities in or around Austin that will be meant to further expand our understanding of those around us. If you have an idea for a field trip, please let me know.
Here’s the 2016 calendar as it stands now:
- Jan – Loving Inefficiently: How can we go out of our way to love in 2016?
- Feb – activity
- Mar – Black Lives Matter: What it’s like to be black in Austin
- Apr – activity
- May – First Annual Sip ‘n Share
- June – activity
- July – What it’s like to be Hispanic in Austin
- Aug – meet & greet
- Sept – What it’s like to be Muslim in Austin
- Oct – meet & greet
- Nov – TBD
- Dec – activity or holiday party or maybe a break
So, why this emphasis on diversity?
Because its so easy to be afraid of the unknown. Some of us dive headfirst into the unknown, embracing the possibility of being hurt or embarrassed, but most times, it’s easier to stick with what’s safe and “normal.” When what is unknown has a face and becomes associated with a skin color or religion or political affiliation, arguing or avoidance replaces communication. We start to avoid and oppress and treat our fellow humans really badly.
Discussion Dinner aims to be part of the solution to bring us together; this time, over food.
We’re always looking for volunteers!
graffiti photo by Kamen Tabakov @Flickr